Touring in Central & Western Greece: Livadeia

Panorama of Livadeia, Central GreeceΟn the banks of Herkyna river

Livadeia is a city in central Greece. It is the capital of Viotia region. It is located 130 km northwest of Athens, and is to be found southeast of Lamia. The area around Livadeia is mountainous while farmlands are mainly in the valleys. The industry Levadia is urban and rural in the outskirts.

Herkyna river, Livadia

Old watermill at Herkyna riverAgios Meletios church, LivadeiaModern bust of the nymph Herkyna at Herkyna headwatersHistory of Livadeia

The sacred protector of Livadeia, the hero/god TrophoniusPausanias (a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century AD) reported that the original name of the city was Mideia, and that it took its name Lebadeia from Lebedos of Athens, who moved the city to its current location on the banks of the Herkyna river (Bk IX.39). The sacred protector of the city was the hero/god Trophonios, whose oracle, involved a harrowing descent into an underground chamber. At the springs of the Herkyna river are shallow grottos with niches and marble remnants, said to be the site of the oracle.

On the hill above is a small medieval castle, mostly the work of the Catalan Company during the 14th century, accessible on foot. Further west, with a dramatic view from the hill of Profitis Ilias, are the remains of a large temple of Zeus Basileus, perhaps begun in the 3rd century BCE but never completed. The cathedral church of St. George houses an important relic, a head of St. George, transferred to Venice in the 15th century, but was returned to Livadeia as a gesture of interfaith cooperation in 1999. In medieval times the river was lined by a series of water mills, one of which is preserved.

Things to see

The Castle of Livadeia by night - Photo by Tasos K.The medieval Castle of Livadeia by night – Photo by Tasos K.
 

Castle of Livadeia

The construction of the castle was begun in the 13th century but most of what is now seen dates from the Catalan occupation of the city, lasting from 1309 until 1380. In 1458 it was captured by the Turks and remained under their control until the liberation of Levadeia.

The castle lies on the naturally fortified hill of Aghios Elias, overlooking the modern town of Levadeia. The long curtain wall runs steeply down, ending at a substantial tower to the east. It is built of rubble stones and only the gateways are built of finely cut ashlar blocks. A small church inside the castle was built much later on the site of an ancient temple of Zeus.
The archaeological site of the Castle of Livadeia is always open and free of admission.
Livadeia (Prefecture of Viotia: Tel: +30 22210 22402)

Cheronia village

The ancient Theatre of Cheronia (near Livadeia)The Lion of CheroniaFunerary relief for Athenian footman Pancahres, likely to have fallen at the battle of Chaeronea.Cheronia (Chaeronea) is a village, part of Livadeia municipality. It is located by the mountain of Thourion and in the Kifisós river valley. Greek historian Plutarch was born in Chaeronea.

Chaeronea was the site of several historical battles. Best known is that of 338 BCE, between Philip II of Macedon and a coalition of various South Greek states, mainly Thebes and Athens. During the battle, the elite unit of Theban soldiers known as the Sacred Band of Thebes was wiped out completely. In 1818, the so-called Lion of Chaeronea, a nearly 20-foot-tall (6.1 m) funerary monument erected in honor of the Sacred Band, was rediscovered by English travellers. The fragmentary monument was reassembled and installed in 1902 by an organisation called the Order of Chaeronea atop a pedestal at the site of its discovery.

Accommodation

Hotel Livadeia, Livadeia, GreeceHotel Livadeia
4, Papaspyrou Avenue, Levadia 32100, Greece
Tel: +30 22610 23611
Hotel website  E-mail: info@levadiahotel.gr
Prices for a double room: £48 (Booking.com)

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